Piñol to fight extremists with modern agri methods
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol will try to prevent Islamic extremists from taking hold of Butig town in Lanao del Sur, also known as the Cradle of the Maranaw Civilization, using seeds and agricultural inputs.
Piñol’s team talked to Butig mayor Dimnatang Pansar after an aerial survey of areas around Lanao Lake, and Pansar told them that capturing the Cradle of the Maranaw Civilization is considered a symbolic victory.
The Maute group have already convinces some young people to join the extremist group due to poverty and government’s failure to deliver basic services.
Piñol said an irrigation project started many years ago only serves 1,000 hectares instead of the intended 3,000 hectares.
He also said good seeds, fertilizers and modern farm machineries are alien to the farmers in the area.
Piñol said he promised Pansar that he will come back to lead an “all-out attack” in Butig using farm implements and support.
He said the town’s agriculture technicians and 10 farmer-leaders will be sent by his department to the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Nueva Ecija next week for training.
“This will signal the start of the battle for the minds. The next will be the battle for the stomach and the hearts. Guns and bullets alone could not win a complicated conflict like the one Butig is faced right now,” he said.